Taking the 100 Word Challenge

Well done to all those on the Team 100 WC 🙂

100 WC circle

The 100 WC is short for 100 word challenge, a weekly event whereby a phrase/picture is given out and students then type up a creative piece using only 100 words.

100 WC header

The BIS Year 7 (Grade 6) class finally, finally(!), got around to entering this weekly event. It’s something that was done during the registration period here at BIS (8:30-8:45 am), and overseen by their form tutor.

Last week’s topic (Week 9 of 2013-14) was “…the violent storm was..”, due to the expected storms then in the UK. This gives you an idea of the fact that topics can be random and based upon events/ideas of the team as they happen. Therefore students have no idea of what exciting topic will come next.

By using their registration period it a) doesn’t impact upon their lessons (so other teachers are kept happy!) b) there can be a more relaxed informal approach to creative writing and c) it allows the form tutor (who doesn’t teach them English) to create a closer link with the students.

Once typed up the form tutor checked the student’s work and then uploaded it to the class blog by the Friday of that week. Then, in a relatively easy procedure, the form tutor linked the blog post pages to the appropriate 100 WC page.

Y7 BIS blog header

The best bit of it though was the faces of the students the following Monday morning in their registration period.  The form tutor showed them, via a projector, so on a large screen, the comments other teachers had added. By Monday registration 8 out of 10 student posts had received at least one comment and they were stunned that someone had not only taken the time to read their creative work, but also to say what they thought of it. It should be noted that 10 out of 10 were added by the end of the Monday.

These comment makers were teachers/educators from New Zealand, Australia, and the UK who had read a post or two and then added a positive comment about that post. These teachers/educators were all volunteers, and part of the Team 100 WC.

So, if you are looking for a great idea for your registration time – why not try the 100 Word Challenge – there were 699 entries for Week 9.

Well done to the following; with links to their posts (and thereby the comments they received) 🙂

They, and the few who didn’t enter for Week 9  in Year 7, are now keen and eager to get on with the Week 10 topic, based on a picture taken by Jane Hewitt:Week 10 WC topic
I eagerly await reading their posts, and subsequent comments 🙂

[Personal plug – movember still on so please keep donating at http://mobro.co/nhowie – thanks @nahowie 🙂 ]

Supporting Movember

First time ever for me – I’m taking part in movember – setting out, during November to raise funds to aid men’s health charity projects. I’ve committed my face to the cause and will be growing a moustache for the entire month of November to raise funds and awareness for men’s health.


So as of our launch here, at the Canadian Club Halloween party, myself and a few friends who are members of Club 11, will be spending the month of November growing (or in my case growing back as I shaved off the beard and moustache first) a new moustache only.

Canadian Club1
Showing off our clean faces.
Canadian Club 2
Supported by a singing Roman Canadian Ambassador

Therefore I’m looking for donations for this most worthy cause. I’d like you to support me and my passion with a donation, as I fight the good fight for men’s health. You can donate by:
1. Donating online at: http://mobro.co/nhowie
2. Writing a cheque to ‘Movember Europe’, referencing my registration ID: 7069673 and mailing it to: Movember Europe, PO Box 68600, London, EC1P 1EF
3. If in Belgrade and you don’t have a credit card/paypal needed for the first option then get in touch with me directly.

If you can help, please do, we (that is men-only this time) may need the help in the future, and supporting the likes of this activity brings a bit of fun to a serious issue.

You can follow those taking part (in UK) via following @movemberuk (many others for different countries) or the twitter hashtags #movember, #movemberuk or #GenMo (amongst others).

If you want to take part then join the movember movement via their website🙂

Thanks in advance for supporting my Mo and helping to change the face of men’s health.

United we Mo



How do you make a User Guide?

My Year 8 (Grade 7) students have a topic this year entitled
How do you make a User Guide?

The objective of the unit is for students to have create a User Guide using a specific programme and with a specified target audience.

Last year I used the programme Lego Digital Designer. It’s a free programme that is relatively easy to learn (Year 8s had no problem). Students have to create a user guide for Year 3 (Grade 2) students to show them how to design a basic model. The Years 3s will test and give feedback on the Year 8s work.

Lego Digital Designer

The students have to learn how the programme works, as I show them very little of how things work, they are relatively simple. As they learn how to use it they have to be thinking about the problems/issues they encountered. Then using screen shots they have to create a guide for the Year 3s of a simple model (car/house etc). Students have to work on manipulating imported screen shots (crop/size/format) as well as think about the level and style of their language, and how to link their words with the pictures (e.g. adding arrow shapes).

Lego Digital Designer 2

However this year, as I found out about another similar (free) programme, Scalextric Track Designer I will also give the students the option of either programmes. This programme also offers a 3D perspective of your work, and for you to decide which parts will be added so it is similar to the Lego programme although here one designs a track for toy racing cars.

Scalextric website

So the Year 8s can give me feedback on which is their preferred programme, and why, as well as them receiving feedback from younger students on their actual work.

Scalextric 2My simple 1 minute version (as simple as it can get!)

Perfect ICT Every Lesson – review

Well the half-term for myself and the students at BIS is almost over. Christmas to look forward to next 🙂

One of my personal objectives was to take the time to read and think about a great little book that is just out (October 2013), “Perfect ICT Every Lesson“:

Perfect ICT Every Lesson book cover

Written by Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist), currently Director of E-Learning at Sir Bernard Lovell School in Bristol, UK. This is one of Jackie Beere‘s (editor) Perfect Series, published by the Independent Thinking Press.

It’s basically a book with great advice, simply put, for all teachers using ICT in their lessons, and as a personal development tool. It’s also a great read for parents who want to know what can (should) be done in schools.

It was obviously reviewed by many practising teachers of ICT, as can both be attested by the Praise at the beginning, but also by the number and quality of the links used. It’s up to date (but like all things won’t be in a year or two; hence the word revised and updated will come in) and shows in easy English what can be done.

The book is split into 7 chapters:
1. Taking ICT from zero to hero
2. ICT learning resources for every classroom
3. Activities in the ICT suite
4. The e-safety framework
5. Mobile technology
6. Literacy, digital literacy and ICT
7. Social media

Each section gives clear guidance on why, in 2013, it is important that such activities are being enacted by teachers. At the same time real examples, both of peers classroom activities, as well as websites are given.

There is a section on Twitter, which explains not only why and how it can be useful (as I wrote myself recently), but for the uninitiated there is a quick guide as well.

There are some great ideas about word clouds, using QR codes, and that most over-used programme ever, PowerPoint (or as comes across here using it to make PowerFull PowerPoints!) And I haven’t mentioned the digital literacy chapter with some great examples of where and how to look for information on the internet. There is also an excellent chapter on e-safety, covering what a school should have in place, in this key area for students’ protection today.

As a teacher of ICT, personally the most interesting part was the SAMR model. This taxonomy was explained clearly and usefully. It is something that I will be taking far more notice of, as a guide of where we are and where we could be. This is rightly placed at the start of the book and whilst easy to understand it should not put any one off the easily readable, practical nature of the rest of the book, which is relevant to all (both teachers AND parents).

I’d recommend that a copy should available to every school, so if you haven’t got one, why not get one. Available from Amazon (kindle e-book / hardcover) or other places if you wish.

word cloudMentioned in Chapter 2 of the book – Word Clouds showcasing key words

Why is typography important? Y7 ICT topic

I’ve been creating a new font today.

Well I did most of it anyway – it takes a while to create all 52 letters of our alphabet and then numbers and the special characters (99 in total in this programme). This has been achieved, at no cost, through a great website called FontStruct. Given how good the website is, I will be able to fit it into a four lesson unit about typography with the Year 7 (Grade 6) ICT programme under the banner of “Why is typography important?“.

Fontstruct programme

The likes of FontStruct help teachers in their explanation of what and why we use a style of typing (and writing) when we do, and students can actively create their own font. If their font is good enough then their peers will understand a message sent using it – one of the key fundamentals of communication.

Hope to have my own font created soon as a simplistic example for my students.

And this is my font (as yet unfinished):

Fontstruct example

Reasons for supporting the U17 World Cup

Well done FIFA for having the Under-17 Football World Cup matches (live) on TV.

I’m not privy to the workings of FIFA, but have just enjoyed another game of the U17 World Cup live on Eurosport.


Why is this important?

Well for a start these players are the ages (15-17 years old) that I teach. At my school we have/have had students who have represented their country at tennis/water polo/basketball etc. and so I see in these youths the fact that they could be my own students wearing with pride their countries shirt.

But also, in the UAE stadiums that have been scarcely populated by fans (there are a few passionate ones each game, but relative to the size of the stadiums are very small) it is great that such matches are on TV.

For those in the know here you see the potential stars of the future, those youths who still have so much to prove, who are looking for a professional contract, who are just starting out in their potential careers.

Is it great football, well it may not at Premiership standards but then I support Gloucester City (no disrespect meant), and I’m sure that these youths would give them a run for their money if they came to Whaddon Road.

So well done FIFA, for making such games available! Not sure I would attend if they were being played at the Red Star (Црвена Звезда) or Partizan (Партизан) stadiums, close to where I live here in Belgrade (though might if there), but I for one have enjoyed watching the games on TV, and look forward to seeing who will be crowned as the U17 World Champions.

The schedule of matches can be found here. The final is on November 8th, between whom one does not know when this post is written, but the first round is very intriguing and with Brazil winning their first two (of three) first round matches 6-1 then they have too be hot favourites.